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Just Asking: Interview with YouTube Sensation 'The Piano Guys'

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(left to right) Al Van der Beek: music/studio guy; Steven Sharp Nelson: cellist; Jon
Schmidt: pianist; Paul Anderson: producer/videographer; Tel Stewart: videographer/editor

What inspires you?
For me, inspiration is a matter of showing up ready to put in the time in hopes that Heavenly Father will provide ideas. There is such a flatness when there is no inspiration. On the other hand, it is exhilarating when inspiration flows. Often, though, my best inspiration comes when I am away from the piano, right before I wake up or when I am relaxing in the tub.

What’s the hardest thing about what you do? What’s the most rewarding aspect?
Memorizing and putting performance polish on the music. YouTube fans are hungry for the next vid. We hate to keep them waiting. The most rewarding is the fact that the Piano Guys are my brothers in the gospel. We are united in a desire to be what the Lord wants us to be.

You seem like such a cool group of guys in all your videos. What’s it like working together?
It is truly FUN! And it just gets more and more fun all the time. We are truly brothers.

How do you come up with new ideas for all the cool videos you guys make?
We pray for inspiration before every recording session or video shoot and often in the middle when problems arise. I truly feel like our involving the Lord heavily has resulted in wonderful ideas. In these prayers we often pray for blessings for future ideas.

Did you ever expect The Piano Guys to get as famous as it has? What has it been like watching the group grow to such popularity—and now to a record label and a new CD?
Paul Anderson did, but we all made fun of him for it. Now we are eating our words. (I owe him dinner at Olive Garden because of it.) He is the vision behind the group. He thinks we will be worldwide household names (HA HA HA HA HA!!!!!)

How do you see the group and your own musical career continuing to progress in the future?
In order to avoid any fragmentation of our efforts I am not separately pursuing the Jon Schmidt brand. People leave comments saying our music makes life better. We want to maximize this by joining forces 100%.

What’s your favorite Piano Guys song/video and why?
Our latest one (“That's What Makes You Beautiful”), because it is the most popular and it involves all of us.

How do you balance your time between the musical aspect of your career, the business side, spending time with your family, and fulfilling your church duties?
We are actually always striving and praying for help in this. 

Have you had any missionary experiences (or other great experiences) through sharing your music?
Oh yes! It is so fun to travel because we all have a blast sharing the gospel in a fun way wherever we go. (cabbies, hotel people, you name it.) Our favorite icebreaker is: "So, do you know any Mormons?" 

What is your favorite memory from a performance?
Having distant lightning strikes occurring in perfect synchronization with the music.

With all the time in the spotlight, you’re sure to have had some gaffes. What’s your most embarrassing moment?
Introducing Paul to the audience and calling him the wrong name. (Paul had to correct me).

Do you have a favorite snack for while you’re on the road doing performances?
Hawaiian Punch with any meal.

When you really need to take a break from everything, what’s the thing that relaxes you most?
Catching up on current events.

If you weren’t in music, what would you be doing?
I would have gotten an MBA and tried to start my own business.

What advice do you have for aspiring musicians?
Make sure you put your life plan completely in the Lord's hands.

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